The difficult balance of parenting and writing

It has been a rough summer. With two little kids at home – one that talks constantly, and one that is learning words rapidly – I often feel I don’t have time to have an independent thought, only time to react, correct, direct. I haven’t completed a poem all summer, though many sheets of paper are scattered around the house with a line or two, a title, an idea. Today, thanks to a week-long camp for my older daughter, I’ll start piecing a poem together.

Motherhood has been a mixed bag for my writing. I left a full-time job to stay home with my first daughter, so during those first couple of years, I was able to write regularly during naptimes, and able to put the poems together for my first manuscript. Once the second arrived, the naptime writing opportunities disappeared, as the other was awake when one was asleep – leaving only evenings to write, when I was usually too exhausted. I remain exhausted at night, so those few hours during the day, when they can be had, are precious.

On the topic of parenting and writing – and the ambivalence that comes with creating that balance – I love these two sections of Margaret Atwood’s poem “Spelling:”

I wonder how many women

denied themselves daughters,

closed themselves in rooms,

drew the curtains

so they could mainline words.


A child is not a poem,

a poem is not a child.

There is no either/or.


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